Writer-director Matt Morillo’s “Angry Young Women in Low-Rise Jeans With High-Class Issues,” a collection of monologues and sketches primarily dealing with sexual issues, is cheerfully raunchy show that boasts osme hilarious writing. The title is unwieldy, and the scenes often go on a bit too long, but the West Coast premiere at the Hudson Mainstage showcases a fearless and funny cast in a sharp production.
The show begins with hostess Brooke Hasalton’s amusing/appalling stories of working as a stripper — a job, she says, in which one can be drunk and still make $500 a day. “My Last Thong” is a rant from Soleil (Jessica Moreno) about the various indignities women experience, from low-rise jeans to bikini waxing; the piece gains in furious intensity as it proceeds. In “Playtime in the Park,” older sister Rebecca (Hasalton) gives younger sister Sarah (Katie Locke O’Brien) advice on what she can actually expect from men.
“Unprotected Sex” follows the attempts of Brian (Keenan Henson) and his friend Joe (Tom Pilutik) to cope with the severe mood swings of Brian’s girlfriend Rachel (Moreno) after she starts taking birth control pills. “The Miseducation of Elissa” is a bleakly humorous monologue from the titular Elissa (Hasalton) about how her great relationship with her father left her unprepared for the cruelty and selfishness of other men. Finally, “The Nude Scene” is about actress Jennifer (O’Brien), who isn’t quite ready to shoot her topless love sequence for a low-budget film.
Moreno is impressive as the righteous Soleil, but in her extraordinary perf as Rachel, she whipsaws from monstrous bitchiness to genuine vulnerability often within a single sentence. She gets every detail right, from changes in posture to the sudden manic gleam in her eyes and combines them all to spectacular comic effect. Pilutik is wryly funny as innocent bystander Joe, and Henson is quite good as Brian, burning a hole in the wall with his gaze as he tries to remain calm.
Hasalton is moving as Elissa and chirpily droll as the hypocritical Rebecca, and O’Brien brings just the right amount of seriousness and confusion to her portrayal of the smart yet inexperienced Sarah. Jason Drumwright scores laughs as the blithely untroubled love-scene actor Barry.
Morillo’s writing is generally very funny but the show could use some tightening; “The Nude Scene” never really reaches its full potential. As a director, Morillo keeps the energy high and the pace fast. Joel Daavid’s set is an effective impressionistic view of New York City, from the skyline background to the vibrant circular blasts of brick and sidewalk that dominate the space.